by Ruth Judah.
On Thursday, July 31 and Friday, August 1, the LA Times was one of 19 US newspapers that ran a full page ad in support of Israel and explaining the nature of Hamas. The ads were paid for by Christians United For Israel (CUFI) and CUFI spoke with The Jewish Home this week. CUFI support for Israel is intense, productive and practical. On August 5, CUFI extended the recent advertising campaign to include other digital media and local papers.
Meanwhile an important CUFI solidarity trip is underway in Israel. CUFI funded and organized the current tour for a group of American Pastors who were flown to Israel on August 4th. The 51 pastors come from each state and one from the District of Columbia. During the visit, the group has plans to meet with senior Israeli officials, offer encouragement to Israeli soldiers, and hear from Middle East experts.
CUFI is not so well known but its presence is increasingly productive, it is undoubtedly the largest supporter of Israel in the US, and probably across the globe. Membership in Christians United For Israel is fast approaching 2 million Americans and this means that each State has many members who pressure their local politicians with issues regarding support of Israel. The organization is funded and managed by Christians of all persuasions, but 80% are estimated to be evangelical Christians, this being approximately 26% of the electoral vote. Translation? Politicians listen to CUFI and there efforts are making a difference in the perception of the issues facing our embattled country.
The financial core of CUFI is through member donations and CUFI raises money from its headquarters at the home of John Hagee in Texas. Hagee also runs a megachurch in Texas where there are more than 20,000 active members. The funds he raises for CUFI are used to create grassroots support, to disperse accurate information about Israel, to ensure an online presence for Israeli issues, to educate politicians, to create public events and to pay for traditional advertising in key media, among other things.
The organization started in 1996 and is clear in its goals: “We believe that the Jewish people have a right to live in their ancient land of Israel, and that the modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of this historic right. We maintain that there is no excuse for acts of terrorism against Israel and that Israel has the same right as every other nation to defend her citizens from such violent attacks. We pledge to stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel and to speak out on their behalf whenever and wherever necessary until the attacks stop and they are finally living in peace and security with their neighbors.”
Many Jews feel uncomfortable with Christian and evangelical support for Israel and it is hard to clarify the political differences that may exist between the organization and Jewish goals. Regardless, the impact of the recent annual CUFI summit was held in Washington DC where every effort was made to involve and influence policy and politicians on the current conflict. Prior to the annual conference, David Siegel, Consul General of Israeli in Los Angeles, spoke with more than a thousand members in a vibrant online telephone conversation. There is no doubt that CUFI is an organization to be taken seriously.